One of Australia’s greatest Aboriginal actors and artists, David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu, has died aged 68, losing his battle with lung cancer.
The Crocodile Dundee star died at his home in Murray Bridge in South Australia yesterday.
The sad news came two years after his daughter, Phoebe, announced that her father had been diagnosed with cancer and would soon “go to Dreamtime”.
Mr Gulpilil appeared in iconic Australian films like Storm Boy, Charlie’s Country, Ten Canoes, Rabbit-Proof Fence, and The Tracker.
But it was a bit part in Crocodile Dundee that earned him fans around the world for his memorable scene opposite Paul Hogan in the 1986 movie.
The film remains Australia’s most successful film ever at the box-office, earning more than $47 million in ticket sales.
In 1987 Gulpilil was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List and awarded the Member of the Order of Australia.
He had previously danced for Queen Elizabeth at the opening of the Sydney Opera House in 1973.
He later received an Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards nomination for best supporting actor for his role in the 2002 movie Rabbit-Proof Fence.
South Australia Premier, Steven Marshall paid tribute to the actor on Monday night, saying his work helped shape the cultural landscape of South Australia. +7
“It is with deep sadness that I share with the people of South Australia the passing of an iconic, once-in-a-generation artist who shaped the history of Australian film and Aboriginal representation on screen,” the Premier said.
“In his later years he was a resident of Murray Bridge. He was a brother, son, friend, father, grandfather and husband.”
“An actor, dancer, singer and painter, he was also one of the greatest artists Australia has ever seen.”
A documentary about his life titled ‘My name is Gulpilil’ premiered in March this year, with the actor making his final public appearance at the screening.
Mr Marshall said his thoughts were with Gulpilil’s family and friends and carer Mary Hood.